To hellraiser and back

In the decade since he was “dis­cov­ered” by Joel Schu­maker, Colin Far­rell has worked with many of Hol­ly­wood’s big­gest direc­tors, earned a place among the top celebrity bad boys of all time, be­come a fa­ther, and, lately, found his mel­lower side. It’s been o

The Irish Times - Friday - The Ticket - - Cover Story -

IN NEIL JOR­DAN’S up­com­ing On­dine, our own Colin Far­rell – cur­rently looking bronzed and healthy be­neath a hectare of tat­toos – plays Syraceuse, a Cork fish­er­man who finds an ex­ot­i­cally ac­cented young woman curled in his net. Later, it be­gins to look as if she might be a class of Celtic mer­maid. Syraceuse, for­merly a heavy boozer, now on the Tizer, has re­formed his ways, in part be­cause he now has to care for a child with spe­cial needs.

In­ter­views with movie stars in­volve a bit of cau­tious fi­ness­ing: we’ll cer­tainly talk about the new film, but both in­ter­viewer and ac­tor know that the pri­vate life will also have to be ad­dressed. By tak­ing the role in On­dine, how­ever, Far­rell al­most seems to be invit­ing us to nudge our way into his liv­ing room.

Now off the drink, fol­low­ing a decade of fes­tiv­i­ties, Far­rell him­self has a child with spe­cial needs. Young James Padraig – whose mother, like the equiv­a­lent char­ac­ter in On­dine, is sep­a­rated from dad – has a rare, se­ri­ous neuro-ge­netic dis­or­der.

“I was go­ing to say that the sim­i­lar­i­ties be­tween Syraceuse and me were su­per­fi­cial, but, you know, they’re not,” he says. “But the script is so good, it al­lowed me the op­tion of ob­jec­tiv­ity. I have been off the sauce for five years. He’s been off for two. He has a daugh­ter who has her prob­lems. Thank God, my son is in great shape. There’s noth­ing ter­mi­nal. But cer­tainly the tri­als faced are sim­i­lar.”

Of course, Far­rell is never ever hard to talk to. De­spite be­ing the tar­get of ou­tra­geous amounts of lu­di­crous gos­sip, he will not evade hard ques­tions in in­ter­views or blub about sup­posed in­va­sions of pri­vacy. In­deed, he is, per­haps, a lit­tle too open. I re­mem­ber, at the pre­miere of one rather dodgy film (you can eas­ily work out which), watch­ing him be­ing dan­ger­ously hon­est about the pic­ture’s un­der­whelm­ing di­a­logue. “I did it to work with Al Pa­cino,” he quipped to a packed cin­ema. “I mean the script’s not go­ing to win any Os­cars. Is it?”

“Did I? That was a bit of hon­esty then,” he laughs. “If I am asked ques­tions now, I am a bit more wary of the weight of words. I am aware of the sig­nif­i­cance of putting opin­ions and ideas out there. I un­der­stand the ef­fect that words can have. A while ago, I read some things that I had said about ex-girl­friends. I don’t think I said bad things, but it was dis­re­spect­ful to talk about that stuff.”

Hap­pily, his (rel­a­tive) re­straint has not dimmed his abil­ity to perk up when a mi­cro­phone trun­dles into view. Re­call his first-class quip when re­ceiv­ing his Golden Globe for In Bruges. “They must have counted the votes in Florida,” he said. He must have had that one pre­pared.

“No. Not at all,” he laughs. “It was on the fly, man. Maybe that was a mo­ment of in­spired ge­nius. Look, that was just a won­der­ful mo­ment. Is that what we are in he busi­ness for? No. But it’s still a lot of fun.”

Any­way, all this is a long-winded way of con­firm­ing that our big­gest movie star gen­er­ally comes across as a darn good egg. Dredge through his past and you will, of course, en­counter the odd spate of fallingover-while-shout­ing anec­dotes, but Far­rell has al­ways – as kinder­garten teach­ers have it – played well with oth­ers.

It’s a lit­tle over a decade since Colin Far­rell, now 33, first nudged his head over the para­pet. Raised in Castle­knock, the son of a for­mer Sham­rock Rovers foot­baller, he at­tended Dublin’s Gai­ety School of Act­ing be­fore se­cur­ing roles in the TV movie Fall­ing for a Dancer and the TV se­ries Bal­lykissan­gel. Shoot­ing On­dine on the Beara Penin­sula in Co Cork brought back many mem­o­ries.

“I’ve al­ways loved that part of the world. Twelve years ago, we shot Fall­ing for a Dancer there. That’s where it all started.

Colin Far­rell in Neil Jor­dan’s On­dine. Pho­to­graphs (above and cover):’’ Pa­trick Red­mond

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